WV Public Service Commission: Important Notes about Your Utility Bills
The West Virginia Public Service Commission issued the following information about what you can expect to see on your next utility bills after the June 29, 2012 Derecho and subsequent storms that left people, in some areas, without power, water, phone service and cable for days.
The following is what the PSC sent out:
The Public Service Commission of West Virginia wants customers to be prepared when they receive their next round of utility bills.
Under normal circumstances, residential customers receive an electric bill that reflects their actual usage one month and an estimated bill based on last year’s usage for the same time period.
In their efforts to restore service as quickly as possible following the June 29 storm, Appalachian Power, Monongahela Power, Potomac Edison, and Wheeling Power have all reported employees were taken off their regular duties, such as reading meters, to assist restoration crews in the field. As a result, more customers than normal will receive “estimated” rather than “actual bills” in the next billing cycle. Unfortunately, the estimated bills will not take into account that a customer may not have had utility service for a portion of the month for which the bill is estimated.
The PSC wants to assure customers that the bills will be accurate or “trued up” as of their next electric bill based on an actual reading. In other words, after paying an estimated bill and the next bill based on actual usage, a customer will have paid no more than what was used.
West Virginia American Water reports it was not necessary to take meter readers off their regular duties to assist with restoration activities, therefore they do not anticipate an increase in the number of customers receiving estimated bills this month. Those customers who experienced service disruptions and were without water should, all other things being equal, expect to see slightly lower bills due to decreased usage.
Commission Rules require telephone companies to pro-rate bills when service is interrupted for specified periods of time (according to the company’s tariff) due to any cause other than the negligence or willful act of the customer. Telephone customers who were without service should contact their phone company to request a bill adjustment.
Both Dominion Hope and Mountaineer Gas Company report there will be minimal changes with upcoming bills as a result of recent storm events. There is a possibility of up to three consecutive estimated bills in a row could be received by some customers in situations where meters were inaccessible or there were safety concerns for employees.